People marching with very large high signs with depictions of barrels of tomatoes with the words How much longer? and Join the Fair Food program and a Wendy's hamburger that says violence on it

Fifty farm workers and their children traveled from Immokalee Florida to march in Columbus last Friday, in coordination with International Women's Day, with 300 university students and locals.

Marchers demanded human rights, and better working conditions at a farm that produces tomatoes for Wendy’s. The stop in Columbus is part of a several year divestment campaign called Boot the Braids against Wendy’s, a reference to the company’s logo of a red headed white female in braids and with freckles on her cheeks. 

Gerardo Reyes Chavez, a representative of The Coalition of Immokalee Workers' (CIW) which runs the Boot the Braids Campaign, said, “I want Wendy’s to sit at the table and sign onto the Fair Food Program.” Chavez, who described himself as an organizer, also said he picked oranges, watermelons, tomatoes, and eggplants for a living. CIW created the Fair Food Program which implements a human rights compliance structure. This is done by Fair Food Standards Council member visits to farm-worker sites, where evaluations are done on compliance to program regulations. The program offers basic services including shelter from the sun, portable toilets, drinking water, bonus pay and even anti-human trafficking services.

CIW came to Columbus as part of a four city “4 for Fair Food Tour” with their children travelling the country for 12 days from Sunday March 2nd, stopping at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before here at Ohio State University, then University of Michigan, and ending Thursday March 14th at University of Florida.

The Columbus march left from Goodale Park through North High Street towards Wendy’s restaurant with chants of “up, up with fair food nation, down, down with the exploitation.” The marchers then headed to a second day of a sit in at the office of Ohio State University President Michael Drake.

Angela Brekalo, OSU student with the Student Farmworker Alliance, said “We marched in Columbus today to get OSU to cut their contract with Wendy's...Wendy's refuses to sign on to the Fair Food Program.” While Wendy’s refuses to sign the program, many other growers and food chain buyers already have signed including Walmart (2014), Trader Joe’s (2012), Chipotle Mexican Grill (2012), Subway (2008), Whole Foods Market (2008), Burger King (2008), McDonald’s (2007), and Yum Brands (2005).

The program, Brekalo said, also provides a “24-hour-hotline in multiple languages. Freedom from sexual assault and harassment, modern-day slavery, wage theft,” and “regulation around when pesticides have to be sprayed and [growers are] required to provide gloves if desired. Implementation of time sheets and worker to worker education sessions.”

Brekalo said “Ohio State wants to consider itself a leader in preventing sexual assault, and to do this, we must ensure that the university is not profiting off violence against farm worker women. The only way to be sure this is the case is through the worker-built Fair Food Program.”